FORTUNE The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time: How Apple, Ford, IBM, Zappos, and others made radical choices that changed the course of business. Hardcover – 4 Jan 2013
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Out of millions of decisions made every day, the 18 big decisions highlighted in this book provide great insight. The authors give enough context that the reader can understand the goals, the needs, and the possibilities for the decisions. The stories portray the studied nature of some decisions and the serendipitous nature of others. The book reminds those who want to lead that they have to choose a different path from the well trodden one of competitors.Howard Stevenson, Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship, Harvard Business School --Howard Stevenson
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1. Steve Jobs return to Apple. Unsatisfactory as this was more a series of events that led to something beautiful rather than a deliberate decision to change the company. Through a combination of vision, accident and luck this happened but it's impossible to learn something from this. 2. Zappos: their decision to offer free shipping and mainly focus on customer service is a better lesson and it's interesting to read how the Zappos team just stumbled upon this decision. 3. Samsung: Interesting concept of sending young potentials abroad for a year to get familiar with market conditions and build a network. 4. Tylenol is a lesson in effective crisis management with an emphasis on transparancy and putting customers first in a crisis situation in 1982. 5. 3M got some amazing results by developing a culture in which 15% of employees time was spent on new projects and experiments.
6. Intel Inside is the campaign that informed customers about a technical component and brought the Intel company a lot of recognition. Customers started to care about the components inside their PC. 7. Jack Welch setting up a GE university to develop his managers and push his company forward. 8. Bill Gates (MIcrosoft) Think Week retreat concept as a way to allow him to study ideas, concepts and rethink the Microsoft strategy on a regular basis. 9. Softsoap identified a key component (the plastic pump) and took control of the supply in the market, slowing up competitors. 10. Toyota chose in the early 50s to implement the lessons of Total Quality Management guru Deming and that brought the company a lot of success.
11. Nordstrom's return policy distinguishes itself from competitors. 12. Tata reduction of workforce gave a good insight in the way an Indian company operates. 13. Boeing's decision to focus on transatlantic commercial jetliners. 14. Lou Gerstner got IBM, in Operation Bear Hug, to listen to its customers again. 15. Walmart's weekly Saturday morning meetings and involvement of employees to make decisions.16. Eli Whitney's decision to manufacture guns using unskilled labor instead of craftsmen. 17. The HP Way deals with a fundamental respect for the employees at the company. 18. Henry Ford's decision to improve wages for his workers and thus increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and make his employees wealthier so that they could spend money and buy cars.
This book is a collection of business stories with an emphasis on strong strategic decisions, highly succesful leaders (i.e. Jobs, Gates, Welch). Some of the stories are infused with a bit of luck or having gambles go the right way (i.e. Whitney, Boeing). Most of the stories are familiar and difficult to one's own career or company. Zappos and Nordstrom focus on the curstomer, Tylenol's handling of a crisis and Bill Gates personal approach to catch up and think ahead as such are the most satisfying.